College-educated voters pose threat to GOP in key races, says pollster

Patrick MurphyPatrick Erin MurphyBipartisan panel to issue recommendations for defending US against cyberattacks early next year First Iraq vet to serve in Congress endorses Buttigieg Sen King, Rep Gallagher to chair bipartisan commission to defend US in cyberspace MORE, director of the Monmouth University Poll, said on Wednesday that college-educated suburban voters are posing a major threat to Republican candidates in key midterm races thought to be Trump strongholds.

Murphy specifically cited Rep. Dave Brat's (R-Va.) race against Democrat Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's 7th congressional district, a key example of a mixed district with many rural voters who are strong Trump supporters but also suburban communities.

"It's that kind of district that has a significant suburban element to it, right outside of Richmond, with a lot of college-educated voters who live in that band, particularly white, female, college-educated voters in that band who have become a core Democratic voting group, at least in this election," Murphy told Hill.TV's Joe Concha on "What America's Thinking." 

"There's enough of them there that are offsetting the more rural, Trump areas of that district," he continued. 

The district, which includes the state's capital of Richmond, is a mixture of rural and suburban areas, and hasn't elected a Democrat in over 45 years. 

A recent Monmouth University poll found Brat trailing Spanberger by 5 points. Forty-seven percent of potential voters back Spanberger, while 42 percent supported Brat. 

The survey comes as white, college-educated women pull back from the Republican Party. 

"We see huge gaps with white, college-educated women, and white, non-college educated women," Democratic pollster Nancy Zdunkewicz told Concha. 

"I think this is part of a longer trend of college-educated women pulling back from the Republican Party, and it's really been crystallized in 2016," she continued. 

— Julia Manchester